Okay! So I got a telescope! And I was able to check out the blinding moon and I think Jupiter with three of its moons in a blurry fashion, after three beers and freezing half the night. It shouldn’t be this hard should it?
What is the best way of using the telescope to see cool stuff?
I appear to have a low power lens, a really high power lens, some sort of lens extender thing, and something that looks like it goes on the end of a high school microscope.
It has a laser type of sight, but it is out of adjustment. The telescope is about the size of the back seat of my Honda and it is about the size of a NFL football in diameter.
Thanks for the help,
Best way of using it to see cool stuff? Point it at cool thing, look through the little end.
What else you need help with?
Honestly, aiming the things are a royal PITA. If you have one of those fancy-ass ones to which you can attach a computer, it makes things much easier. You could also look for a local amateur astronomy club, buy Starry Night (or similar) software to help you find cool stuff for which to look, randomly point it in the general direction of “up”, or some combination of all of the above.
If you have a stable base, you can use the low power eyepiece to help aim, then swap it for the high power.
What kind did you get? Schmidt-Cassegrain? Dobson?
It is a Galileo FS120DX reflector F1000x120, or whatever the hell that means. The base seems pretty stable, it has a compass and stuff on it. I guess the main thing would be how to adjust the little laser sight. It seems to be pointing down and to the right, almost like half an inch away and at a downward forward falling 45 degree angle.
I have a Astroscopic Barlow 3X, which seems to be a device that I can put all the lenses in and rotate them around in, a 1.5X erecting eyepiece, an F6 8mm that says "zoom’ on it, and an Astroscopic 25 mm lens that says nothing really on it.
As suggested, go to a local astronomy club meeting. Then find out when they will have the next star party, go to that, and everybody will help you figure out things.
Before that, you should absolutely buy at least one good book on the subject, or get one from the library. One I can recommend is The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide It will tell you all about telescopes, how to polar align, what to look for and tons of other good stuff.
As to the moon, it really is bright and you should get a moon filter (a neutral density one). The full moon is flat lighted so you don’t see as much detail. Wait until is is gone from full, then look at the terminator line (where the light and dark parts meet) and you will see great detaiil of the mountains and craters. Each night it moves, so you can see different parts of the moon.
There is a lot to learn, but it is really rewarding, so you will never run out of objects to observe. Have fun!
You will probably get more pleasure out of the lowest power (longest focal length in mm, the thing that says “25”).
Learn to find things by looking. If you want to fool with computers, stay on SDMB. It’s not that hard to learn that such and such is about a third of the way from that one to that other one and a bit to the right.
Get a chart. Objects with names like M## where ## is a number up to a hundred and some are also called Messier objects, like M33 is the Great Galaxy in Andromeda. Most of the nicest amateur objects outside the solar system are Messier objects. Messier wrote a list of the things he kept mistaking for comets, his true love. Now it’s a catalog of must-see sights.
The planets and the moon are easy, and they are also good to look at with higher powers.
Get a Sky and Telescope, and ignore the ads. You don’t need anything electronic and you don’t need anything that looks like hot car accessories.
That means it’s 1000 mm focal length with a primary aperture (main mirror diameter) of 120 mm. Given your description of the overall size, it’s most likely a Newtonian. The f: ratio is focal length/aperture; in your case that would make it an f:8.3, which is somewhere towards the “slow” end of the scale. It’ll have good magnifying power, but a somewhat dim image, particularly towards the higher magnifications, so it’ll be better for lunar and planetary observation. I’d avoid those higher mags, anyway, since there’s little benefit to high magnification, particularly for a small terrestrial scope–the atmosphere limits your usable magnification to around 300, even with the best scopes. Your aperture determines your particular scope’s maximum usable power; for 120 mm, that will be around 200 x or so. To determine the magnifying power of a given eyepiece, divide your scope’s primary focal length (1000 mm) by the focal length of the eyepiece. If you have one much shorter than 5 mm, it’s too much.
Try looking to the west just after sunset. You should see a very bright “star”, noticably brighter than anything else in that part of the sky. This is the planet Venus. Because its orbit is closer to the sun than ours, it displays phases like our moon. I haven’t had my telescope out for ages, but according to the Sky & Telescope website (www.skytonight.com) Venus is currently in the gibbous phase.
If you live in a rural area, or ever get a chance to take the telescope out somewhere far from city lights, try just slowly scanning anywhere in the milky way. You will be amazed at how many stars you can see.
Even better: Point it somewhere in the constellation Saggitarius. That’s the direction of the center of the Milky Way, and there are so many interesting things that way that you really can find them just by pointing at random spots. My personal favorite deep sky object (that is, anything outside the Solar System) is the Lagoon Nebula; the Triffid Nebula is also in the same vicinity. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait a few months for that; Sagittarius is a summer constellation.
For this time of year, my favorite deep-sky objects are the Orion Nebula and (for low magnification) the Pleiades, both of which have the advantage of being easily visible to the naked eye. Assuming that your “laser-type sight” is a reflex sight of some sort, this means you’ll just look with your naked eye at the sky, center the crosshairs on the object, and look through the scope.
If your location is correct, you’re going to have a serious problem with light pollution. The only things you will enjoy looking at in your backyard are the moon, Jupiter, and Venus. Tonight (Sunday) will be a great night to look at Venus and just after sunset in the west because the cold front that came through Friday blew away a bunch of dust and humidity. The moon will come up just after sunset and will be nearly full and too bright to see much detail.
Drive out to the boonies and set it up. Put in of the lower power eyepieces without a Barlow. Wait for a halt hour or so in the dark to let your eyes adjust. Then, just scan the sky slowly. It will take your breath away.